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What’s In My Tampon?

When we first got our periods, we would never have guessed that we’d be sharing our stories with an audience.

But here we are: I (Alex) got my first period at my cousin Louise’s house during a family holiday. When I arrived at school the next week, my “friend” Jeannette had filled my locker with tampons as a prank. (Needless to say, everyone found out.)

When I (Jordana) got my first period while at home in New York, I was lucky enough to have a friend nearby to show me how to use a tampon—which I did on that very first day. (No wonder I’m now in the tampon business.)

A little over a year ago, with those early teenage days far in the past, the two of us were discussing the current irritations in our lives. Among other things, we wondered why we found ourselves still making frantic last-minute trips to the drugstore for tampons. We knew we needed them every month, yet we were almost always unprepared. And that’s when we came up with the idea of a feminine care delivery service.

But that original notion quickly transformed when we realized that we had no idea what was actually in the tampons we had been using for years. This prompted two reactions: First, we knew we definitely didn’t want to sell a product with ingredients that weren’t spelled out explicitly; and, second, how come we had never asked ourselves this simple question before?

We consider ourselves to be relatively healthy and mindful people (though we’re by no means extremists in our wellness routines). We exercise regularly (or try to, at least) and consider the nutritional benefits of the foods we eat. It seemed strange that we had never before thought about what materials are in the feminine care brands we had been using for most of our lives.

The FDA doesn’t actually require feminine care brands to list their ingredients, so a box of tampons at the drugstore might say something like: “This product may contain cotton, rayon, polyester.” Most of us never bother to look at the labels on feminine care boxes, but wouldn’t dream of eating out at a restaurant where the waiter doesn’t disclose ingredients like cilantro (yay for Alex, nay for Jordana).

This lack of information put us on a quest to develop our own product, made from ingredients we know and trust. And, from this labor of love, LOLA was born: 100% hypoallergenic cotton tampons with a BPA-free plastic applicator, delivered straight to your door in customizable assortments.

There’s a reason cotton is the most widely used natural fiber in the world: It’s breathable, comfortable, and soft. We use cotton in pretty much everything we keep close to the skin already. And, from an environmental perspective, LOLA cotton is 100% biodegradable. The plastic applicators are made from the friendliest plastics (#4 and #5, for those interested), and the tampon box is made from recyclable cardboard.

Over the past year, we’ve talked to as many women as we could find about tampons. The most interesting thing we learned is that women, from all walks of life, have never before been asked when they first used a tampon or who taught them how to use one—but when prompted, definitely want to share! We heard completely candid and hilarious recollections about first experiences: at camp learning from bunkmates, alone for hours with instructional pamphlets with legs in weird positions, trapped in a bathroom with moms, aunts or sisters yelling through the door or even barging in to provide “hands on” guidance. (Cue the humiliation.)

Yet, while they can all remember their first time using a tampon, the overwhelming majority of women had never even considered what is in their tampons. Our goal at LOLA is to provide peace of mind about what’s in the feminine care products women use, to empower and educate them to ask the right questions about these products and to open up a dialogue on a topic that, for a lot of reasons, has gone undiscussed for too many years.

We feel confident that, while most women don’t necessarily enjoy their periods, LOLA can offer one less thing to worry about.

 

--Jordana Kier and Alex Friedman.  Jordana Kier and Alex Friedman are co-founders of the newly launched modern feminine care brand, Lola. Before co-founding the brand, Kier received her MBA from Columbia Business School, during which time she worked at Rent the Runway and Quidsi. She is also on the board of Drive Change, a 501(c)(3) food truck that employs and teaches transferable skills to youth in the New York City criminal justice system. Friedman led analytics at Flurry Analytics (acquired by Yahoo in Aug 2014) and was a consultant at Boston Consulting Group in New York. She previously attended Wharton Business School, and has over the years been actively involved in the Young Women’s Leadership Network. Both women graduated from Dartmouth College and currently live in New York.